Modern “man enters the world, no longer as a gift of the Creator, but as the product of our activity – and a product that can be selected according to requirements that we ourselves stipulate. In this way the splendor of the fact that he is the image of God – the source of his dignity and of his inviolability – no longer shines upon this man; his only splendor is the power of human capabilities.”
Christianity and the Crisis of Cultures, 26
Reflection – Designer babies, genetic engineering, eugenics—these are still somewhat science fiction scenarios. So this is not exactly what Ratzinger is referring to in this passage.
Rather, he is referring to a certain attitude that is rather common. “We are made, we are not born,” the Parachute Club sang when I was a wee lad back in the 1980s. In other words, life is not a gift, but a product. My humanity is not a given, but an achievement. I make myself human by my choices; humanity itself is an utter blank slate.
Now the Parachute Club (and many who agree with this) are thinking of freedom from the moral law, the license to do whatever one pleases that follows when there is no human ‘nature’ to adhere to. And while that is problematic in itself, proponents of this view forget a whole slew of other implications that follow upon this ‘made not born’ paradigm.
For one thing, the value of any individual is only commensurate with the value of his accomplishments, with what he or she had made. People who make the ‘wrong choices’ or who fail to maximize their potential are intrinsically of less value than the ubermen who excel. The whole business of ‘lives not worth living’ and the specter of the gas chamber looms large all of the sudden.
For another thing, we do not live as isolated monads. When we are ‘made not born’ and that’s the ultimate reality of humanity, then the powerful people in society may decide that they will do the making, thank you very much, rather than leave it to the messy process of human personal choice. And if there is no intrinsic freedom or value to human life, then what cogent objection can be raised to that? Let the government-media-entertainment complex tell you what a human being should think, feel, and do—let yourself be made, since you were born with nothing. So much easier!
The denial of human nature, then, which seems to be liberating (“Let it go, let it free your body, let it move your soul…”) actually paves the way pretty quickly for nothing less than fascism, and there is no brakes to halt our precipitous slide thataway. Oops.
As I have said more than once on this blog, when a philosophical position leads necessarily to a monstrous conclusion, it’s time to go back and reconsider. Yes, an intrinsic and binding human nature implies logically a moral law, things we must not do that violate the nature we have been given. But without any human nature, the rich and powerful are free to manipulate, suppress, program, socially engineer, and virtually obliterate the rest of us.
And this is not exactly a theoretical possibility, eh? Recent court cases in
and Quebec , and current legislation in Alberta make it clear that the government considers children to be primarily subjects of the state, and parents at best to be agents of the state thus compelled to educate their children according to central planning dictats (see Lifesite News for details). Very serious—the dictatorship of relativism waxing strong in Ontario these days. Canada
So let us be perfectly clear: we are born, not made, or if made, made by our Heavenly Father, and what we need to let go of to be freed in our bodies and souls is the terrible weight of moral and ontological nullity which makes us hopelessly vulnerable to tyranny and oppression. What we need to do in the political sphere is far from clear, but we need to start by clear articulations of the truth, strong arguments for our position, to be able to even begin to resist the growing tide of tyranny in the Western world.
And I’m sorry for getting that stupid Parachute Club song stuck in your head. Let it go!